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Who Moved My Cheese?
By Spencer Johnson, M.D.
Who Moved My Cheese? is a good, little, self-help book. It's a very short book-about 90 pages, big type, and lots of white space. I've written book reviews that were longer! If you're planning to cuddle up and read a book over the weekend, you better have a back up to this one.
Despite its small size, Who Moved My Cheese? is masterful at helping people deal with a substantial, psychological roadblock-change. Who Moved My Cheese? tells the story of two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two "little people" (Hem and Haw) trapped in a maze. Cheese is a metaphor for whatever you want in your life. For the mice, it's cheese. For the "little people," it could be success, happiness, or financial security.
One day, the foursome finds cheese in Cheese Station C. It's probably one of those researchers putting it there, but we don't know. Maybe fate or an accident has placed it there. Anyway, they all like it. They return day-after-day to eat cheese.
The mice always explore their surroundings and are looking for change. They weren't completely surprised when one day the cheese disappeared. They noticed the supply had been dwindling.
Or, even if they were surprised, when it was gone, it was gone. Sniff lifted his nose and decided upon a direction. Scurry took off in the same direction. The mice went looking for new cheese in the maze. They didn't try to hold on to a past that no longer existed.
The mice didn't analyze things too much. Change happens. They knew they had to deal with it.
The little people were different. They had come to view Cheese Station C as their home. They bragged about it. They felt it was theirs. They were outraged, shocked, scared, and befuddled when the cheese disappeared. In their comfort, they didn't notice the cheese supply had been dwindling, nor that it had become old and smelly. They had become complacent.
Hem and Haw felt the situation was unfair. It was their cheese, and now it was gone. Hem and Haw remained in Cheese Station C hoping the cheese would return and wondering where it had gone.
As fate would have it, Haw did find new cheese (it would be a pretty weak self-help book if he didn't!) On his cheese-seeking quest, Haw kept writing life lessons on the wall of the maze like:
(Will Haw become another self-help mouse writer?)
Hem was hemmed in by his old ideas. We don't know if he ever left Cheese Station C. He may have starved, as the longer he stayed in the cheeseless station, the weaker he would become.
Anyway, learn to think more like a mouse. Don't depend upon the status quo. Realize change happens and circumstances, which may have favored you, change. Yet, you can't control change and are not entitled to things remaining the same. (An aside to employers who need to let people go: This is a great book to give the your ex-employees. They'll feel excited and optimistic about their future in the job maze. They might even be glad you terminated them!) Be ready to move looking for new cheese.
Who Moved My Cheese? provides inspirational guidance to those suffering job loss, downsizing, divorce, or altered life situations. It's message, to seek out new opportunities, makes the reader, faced with change, want to quit the "It's-not-fair" hand-wringing and seek opportunity.
Who Moved My Cheese? provides a simple, powerful message to the person confronted with unwelcome change.